Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Over grown military establishments are under any form of government inauspicious to liberty, and are to be regarded as particularly hostile to republican liberty." -George Washington

"Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac." -George Orwell

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Time for Tea

We are VERY dry here in south Tampa and most of Florida so I've been treating my roses in various Water Wise Container Gardens, both buried and above ground, to good soaks from the hose, rain barrels and kitchen graywater, and, beginning today, giving them a tea made from my stable's "Super Poop" dumped into barrels filled by that last precious rain we had. I hope to see lush new growth and blooms soon. As usual, I am asking the Universe for a super-wet summer and fall as I learned yesterday that Tampa's rain deficit for 2006-2009 alone was THIRTY inches! John

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Blog Less, Earn More John!

As much as I love working on all three of my blogs, it is time I pay more attention to boosting attendance to my classes and my plant sales that actually pay my bills. So instead of 1-2 blog posts daily, I will wean myself to 1-2 per week as I must increase my income to avoid depleting my retirement savings. Some blogs make their creators wildly wealthy, but mine have generated just a tiny trickle of income.....$20 plus some very nice gifts to date! So time for me to be a realist and get my financial house in order. But it HAS been fun. John

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

'Gainesville Garnet' Climbing Rose for Florida

This remontant Wichuraiana climber I bred some years ago boasts voluptous blooms, extremely healthy foliage (due I am sure to the Wichuraiana genes), but, sadly, that foliage is less than lush, plus the apple-skin and roses perfume is, to my demanding nose, faint. Despite those shortcomings it passed 3 years of trials at Ashdown Roses, with its commercial introduction to have occured this year. But sadly, they went under financially in these lean times. My original plant, own root of course, thrives all these years later in spite of long term drought and my minimal water use and just blessed me with new blooms. It has never set hips, be the blooms boinked by me or open-pollinated.  John


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Commercial Rose Growing in Saudi Arabia

I did not see the name(s) of the rose cultivars in the article, but that photo SURE reminds me of what I called "Fairmount Kazanlik" in Colorado. I thought all of Saudi Arabia is hot, but either these roses are heat tolerant or growing in cooler zones. Boy I'd love to get one of those vials of rose essential oil!  Enjoy, John


Saturday, May 7, 2011

Rose People

As I've shared before, less than a year ago I had lost most of my roses mojo due to 6 years of drought, severe watering restrictions, and my own values as a Florida native environmentalist regarding water use as a permaculturist who grows much of his own food. But I am getting my roses passions back due in part to the Water Wise Container Gardens I make, grow roses in then bury to give their roots a chance to survive long enough to go deep, and due to meeting dedicated rosarians who've NOT lost their mojo. Recently I had the pleasure of a brief visit from Anita Clevenger on her way to give two talks to Malcolm Manners' roses group....sadly, due to my having failed to plan in advance regarding the scheduling of the classes I teach here on weekends I had to miss both....I bet the slide presentation was lovely! Anita was effervescent in her love of the Sacramento Historic Rose Garden, and since I've had the pleasure of being visited by Fred Boutin twice in Denver, it was a delight to meet the other half of the team. Despite the Third World appearance of my urban farm as I re-invent it based on my Water Wise Container Gardens, Anita seemed to appreciate my efforts to work exclusively with scrounged/dumpster-dived materials in my projects inside and out. I hope to visit their cemetery garden at full peak some year.

At the Third Annual Roses Lovers Gathering in Alachua, Florida last Saturday, I finally got to meet Gene Waering, co-editor of the wonderful 'The Sustainable Rose Garden'. As I expected he was a true gentleman, as can be seen in the short video I shot of a portion of his great talk I will soon be posting on YouTube (I will share the link here when I do). I think I expected him to be a academic type, but he was effusively friendly. The host of the event, Pam Greenewald was a trip.....endless energy, funny, irreverent, curious, well informed about biology and ecology and in the spirit of thoughtful experimentation is growing a VAST number of roses rarely seen in Florida and free of the dogmas of spraying chemicals and budding on Fortuniana as a "necessity".

These folks and others have helped me to revive my roses passions largely smothered by perennial drought. Since the collapse of J & P, roses budded to Fortuniana are even more rarely retailed to the public here, who is now back to the Dr. Huey roses that gave roses the reputation of "annuals" in Florida years ago. I gather that Florida is down to just one grower of Fortuniana roses, and here in Tampa the one nursery I know of that sells them, Hardin's, is open just a few hours on Saturdays as despite its advantages, Fortuniana is a VERY thirsty rootstock due in part to its roots staying in the top few inches of the soil as a mat. So they too are often short lived in a non-rosarian's garden. But Tampa's "sugar sand" has minimal ability to hold moisture, and with the rainy season now a fraction of the length it was in the 60s and 70s, roses on Fortuniana are a rare sight in yards except in those of the very well off who can afford the drip systems and the monster water bills that result. So I am hopeful that pioneering rose folks like Pam can make roses in the yards of regular folks thinkable again. I intend to begin selling roses grown in these Water Wise Container Gardens so that people can bury them and sustain the roses in that finite soil mass with minimal watering, even if they do not save their kitchen graywater as I do.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Abundant Hips on 'Seagull' in Tampa

                                           open pollinated seedling of 'Seagull' in Tampa

Hips on 'Seagull' in Tampa
My ten year old own root plant has endured sheer hell in terms of drought and neglect, yet it blooms profusely each spring. I feel it sets even heavier crops of hips than it did in Denver...and they can be very tasty. The OP seeds germinate readily after a few months of cold stratification, and many of the seedlings are these charming little remontant Polyantha-ish things with a sharp/sweet Multiflora perfume. John

Monday, May 2, 2011

The Third Annual Roses Lovers Gathering in Alachua, Florida

                                                    Pam Greenewald

north central Florida verbascum along I-75

I had a great time, met many interesting people, and gloried in the presence of so many roses rarely seen in Florida. I  finally got to meet congenial Gene Waering, co-editor of the groundbreaking 'The Sustainable Rose Garden' book, and  who grows roses in both Manhattan and Jacksonville. But first, I met the host and organizer of this fine event, Pam Greenewald. She is a likeable human dynamo, very informed about biology and ecology, passionate about growing her vast array of roses on their own roots and all-organically, mindful of the interconnectedness of life. Her property of the last twenty seven years houses a wonderful spring fed lake populated by blue pickerel weed and yellow native lotus.....and alligators. (OH how I envy her access to water!). Wildlife, plus whimisical and spiritual garden art abounds over the six acres peppered by gardens and greenhouses. She was a stimulating and gracious host, kept us laughing a lot,  and she clearly has a mind that races, like a spiritual Margaret Mead on shrooms. She showed and sold us wonderful roses, and afforded all present a chance to bask in a rural paradise, surrounded by roses and rose lovers with perfect north Florida weather. Videos to come. John